As the Andy Pettittee free agent “will he or won’t he?” saga dragged on this winter, proponents of Pettitte’s possible return cited his off-season involvement with a PED investigation as one of the reasons for his bad second half. They tired, he reasoned, because he was too involved with a federal investigation and Congressional hearings to keep himself in perfect baseball shape. This year, these supporters said would be different.
However, on the first day of Spring Training, The Daily News gave to me a story about Andy and the Feds. According to the report, Pettitte met in D.C. last Tuesday with two federal prosecutors who are investigating Roger Clemens for perjury. Pettitte said simply that he “couldn’t talk it” to reporters this week.
As Yogi said, it’s like déjà vu all over again. Of course, 2009 isn’t at all like 2008, right? This time, Pettitte had just one visit with the two assistant U.S. attorneys as far as we know. The rest of the off-season, he was able to spend resting his injured throwing arm.
Now, I don’t mean this to cast doubt or suspicion on Pettitte or the team. The rest of the New York sports media is doing fine in that regard with A-Rod, thank you very much. But this winter, Pettitte had a contract dispute extend through the end of January, and he took a journey to D.C. The distractions are there, and Pettitte isn’t one to make excuses about them. He’ll show up as ready to play as any soon-to-be 37-year-old can.
In the end, the Yanks don’t really need Pettitte to be anything spectacular. He is the fourth starter in the Yankee rotation and the fifth best in terms of stuff and potential at this point in this career. They’re guaranteeing him just $5.5 million 2009 and have a plethora of young arms waiting in the wings. Basically, anything the Yanks get from Andy will be icing on the cake. A good season would be a pleasant surprise; a mediocre one is more likely. As long as he throws the innings, I’ll take it.